The past three years, Caitlyn Cornwell has gone to the state public high school softball semfinals at Bachmann Park to support friends and club teammates on different high school teams.
She’ll be again at the Anne Arundel County complex Tuesday, this time finally as a participant. No. 3 Northeast defeated 14th-ranked Carver A&T, 3-2, in a Class 2A state quarterfinal in Pasadena.
Cornwell, a senior centerfielder, had two hits and an RBI for Northeast (20-2 overall), and freshman Presley McGinty pitched a three-hitter.
McGinty scored the winning run in the bottom of the fifth, and induced the game’s final out with the tying run, giving Northeast its first state final four trip to nearby Bachmann Park since 2017. The Eagles will play defending 2A state champ Calvert from Calvert County, Tuesday at 4 p.m.
The wait is over for Northeast as well as Cornwell, one of two seniors on roster dominated by freshmen and sophomores.
“I’ve been there as a spectator, and it’s been like ‘good job guys, wish I could be out there,’” laughed Cornwell, who will play for the University of Maryland next spring. “It means so much to have this great team.”
The Eagles needed a cohesive effort turn away Baltimore County champ Carver A&T (14-7), looking to reach its first state semifinal. The fleet-footed Cornwell had a hand in two of Northeast’s three runs.
She opened the third inning with a single, stole second and was sacrificed to third by McGinty. Cornwell scored on an error for the game’s first run.
Carver A&T answered in the fourth as Allison Pumphrey led off with a triple and Mia McGarvey later doubled. Both scored on groundouts from Emily Hamp and Robyn Palmer, respectively, to take a 2-1 advantage.
With one out in the bottom of fourth, MacKenzie Weiland singled and was bunted to second. Cornwell laced a single into off Carver A&T ace Mallory Cooper into centerfield, bringing home Weiland with the tying run.
Northeast regained the lead in the fifth as McGinty singled to start the frame, then hustled to third on Taylor Castle’s sacrifice bunt. With two outs, she scored on a wild pitch.
McGinty (six strikeouts), pitching for the first time in several weeks due to a back injury, had the tying run for Carver A&T at second base with one out in the seventh. She nabbed a comebacker for the second out and induced a slow roller inside the first base line where Weiland got the ball and tagged the runner for the final out.
Northeast coach Joe Hart has been pleased with how his young squad has bounce back since losing the Anne Arundel County final to Crofton two weeks ago. The match was tied in the fourth before Crofton pulled away to a 10-1 victory at Bachmann.
“It’s hard to beat a good county team three times and also you got the bright lights and never really experienced some thing like that,” said Hart, whose team beat Crofton twice in the regular season. “We told them that didn’t defined your season...you still went undefeated in Anne Arundel County during the regular season.”
Carver A&T’s regular season had some ups-and-downs, but the Wildcats found their bearings to win their first Baltimore County championship and make a return trip to the 2A state quarterfinals. Carver A&T lost at home to Century last year.
Wildcats coach Kevin Klimko believed his team proved its worth Saturday, going down to the wire against one of the area’s elite squads this spring.
“I think we gave this one away, but I’m proud of my kids,” said Klimko. “We started the season 0-2...I really wasn’t sure where this was going before the season. A true team...they came to practice everyday and worked.
We’ve come a long way. To come here to this school with this tradition and play like this...nobody expected this except us.”
Since the beginning of the season, Northeast, despite its overall youth, has had major expectations.
The Eagles will be ready for Tuesday afternoon.
“We’ve been so connected,” said Cornwell, who’s a win away from completeing her high school career in the state finals at the University of Maryland.”I wouldn’t want to be there (Bachmann) with anyone else.”
CLASS 2A STATE QUARTERFINAL
NO. 3 NORTHEAST 3, NO. 14 CARVER A&T 2
Carver A&T 000 200 0 - 2 3 2
Northeast 001 110 x - 3 6 0
Cooper and Hamp; McGinty and Castle
2B: Carver A&T: McGarvey
3B: Carver A&T - Pumphrey